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Three Irish doctors and a businessman are rowing across the Atlantic for charity

Three experienced rowers and one novice are taking their boat Saoirse across the Atlantic in a charity row.

Relentless Rowers 1 Source: Relentless Rowers

WE ALL BECOME a bit disillusioned with our situation at some point in our lives – get sick of the same routine, feel stuck in a rut, and go on a hunt for adventure.

But very few of us would react to that feeling the way Thomas Browne would – to pick up two oars and join a team of experienced rowers on a trip across the Atlantic.

Ahead of their plan to set sail on 12 December, Thomas told TheJournal.ie that this was something he really felt he had to do.

“I was caught in this rut where I was seeing the same people on the same bus, doing the same thing everyday. I love what I do but I did miss being scared, if that makes sense. I needed to do something that I’ve never done before.”

He got it into his head that he wanted to row across the Atlantic, and a mutual friend put him in touch with three doctors from Cork, who were already planning to undertake the journey.

Relentless Rowers 3 Source: Relentless Rowers

Junior doctors Seán Underwood and Patrick O’Connor, podiatrist Eoin O’Farrell aim to raise at least €20,000 for Cork University Hospital’s children’s unit. But they had some experience at it, while Thomas had none.

“I literally came in from scratch, I knew absolutely nothing about rowing.”

The 5,500km journey in the 28-ft ocean rowing boat will involve no outside assistance, and they’re aiming to finish the journey in 35 days to beat the world record (but it will probably take 60 days).

He says he came into it fairly “Bambi-eyed” and had some catching up to do.

“I kind of thought rowing was just putting the oar in the water but there’s a lot of technique to it.”

During during the week he does weights, goes for a swim, and does cardio training in the evening, but he says the mental aspect will be the toughest part.

We did a 24-hour practice row at the weekend where we went to Kinsale and back. You realise it by doing these 24/48-hour rows, the lack of sleep and doing the same thing over and over again, you start hallucinating.
There are two hulls you can lie down to sleep in. When the sea is rough you strap strap yourself in, and claustrophobia starts setting in. You can’t see anything for miles and miles and miles.

Relentless Rowers 2 Source: Relentless Rowers

When you’re 27 years old and fit and active, you feel invincible, but during these rows it really hits home that humans aren’t made to be on the water, and shows how vulnerable we are.

He said that being out at sea by yourself and feeling a bit lost seemed like a good metaphor for depression, which he had suffered before. That’s why Thomas wants to raise awareness of Pieta House through his journey.

Sean Underwood acknowledged the momentous task that they were about to embark upon:

“Fewer people have crossed the Atlantic than have climbed Everest, so we’re well aware of the challenge we’re undertaking, but quite simply, we believe that you only get one shot at life, everybody dies but not everybody lives.

In the hospitals we work in, we are faced almost daily with the fragility of the human condition.

“If we can make a difference to just one child in the CUH Children’s Unit by competing in this race, then it will all have been worth it.”

The “Relentless Rowers” as they’re called, are urging businesses to support their journey with a sponsor package. Enquiries can be made to sclunderwood@gmail.com.  You can also follow their journey at www.relentless.ie or on their social media.

Read: ‘The worst part of my epic 45-day Pacific Ocean excursion? When the iPods stopped working’

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